Judge reduces Rastrick Facebook groomer's prison sentence

Wayne Barker
Wayne Barker

A Rastrick man who paid a teenage boy with cigarettes and tobacco after "grooming" him over Facebook has had his three-year jail sentence cut by nine months.

Wayne Barker was locked up earlier this month after Bradford Crown Court heard how he asked the 16-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, to be his boyfriend despite a 10-year age gap.

Barker, of Bramston Street, began communicating with the then 15-year-boy via Facebook in 2015 and Recorder Tom Little said the exchanges quickly developed into highly explicit sexualised language.

In June 2016 Barker, who was then 26, met up with the 16-year-old after the teenager had told him he would do anything for cigarettes and the boy performed a sex act on the defendant at his home.

The court heard that during a second meeting Barker attempted to have sex with the teenager having offered him tobacco.

Barker, who had no previous convictions, was found guilty following a trial last month of two charges of paying a child for sexual services, but he was acquitted by the jury on other allegations.

Barrister Julian Taylor, for Barker, said his 28-year-old client was very sorry for what he had done and for any effect it had had on the teenage boy.

"He made a terrible mistake in what he did and is very sorry for it," he added.

Mr Taylor urged Recorder Little to consider a suspended prison sentence which would hang over Barker and act as a deterrent to prevent any further offending.

But the judge said last week that he had formed the view that the case involved an element of grooming by Barker and there was also a very signficant disparity in age between the defendant and his victim.

"In my judgement this offending, for the reasons I have said, is so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence is appropriate," said the judge at the time.

But Barker was brought back to court from prison to be told that the judge had made an error in assessing the appropriate length of the jail sentence.

Recorder Little said that following the passing of the original sentence he had reconsidered the approach he had taken and now took the view that the most serious charge was a Category 1b offence rather than Category 1a.

"To that extent I was in error," he said.

The judge reduced Barker's three-year sentence on that offence to 27 months with a concurrent prison term of 12 months for the second offence.

Because Barker's sentence is now less than 30 months he will have to register as a sex offender with the police for 10 years rather than for life.

But he will still be monitored following his release under the terms of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.